When Boris Johnson first became prime minister in July this year, Germany’s media commentators labelled him “a clown,” a “charlatan”, and “Europe’s own Trump.”
The reaction on Germany’s front pages on Friday morning was distinctly more measured after the Tory party’s general election victory yesterday, with some political journalists wondering if Johnson’s majority win could actually be a good thing for the EU’s future relationship with the UK, while others urged caution.
“In order to present himself as a Brexit hardliner, British prime minister Boris Johnson maligned democratic institutions and accepted the split in his Tories. The tactics worked,” said Kevin Hagen for Der Spiegel, Germany’s leading political magazine, which ran with the headline “King Boris.”
Carsten Volkery at Handelsblatt, Germany’s influential finance newspaper wrote that “Boris Johnson's convincing electoral victory gives him plenty of wiggle room. This could be an advantage for the EU” because the paused Brexit game is now over. Volkery also suggested that “in theory” it should be easier for Johnson to secure a new free trade agreement quickly now that he will no longer be dependent on the Northern Irish DUP for a majority in parliament.
Die Welt also saw Boris’s landslide as giving him the chance to forge some harmony with the EU.
Tagesspiegel daily newspaper noted that “at the end of an election campaign which Johnson waged with meaningless content, it was the simple slogan ‘Get Brexit done’ that drove an overwhelming majority into the prime minister's camp.”
However, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung was much more cautious, asking “Johnson triumphs—but at what price?”
“The new era is likely to be less auspicious for the kingdom than the Leave propagandists promise,” said Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger. “In a world of geopolitical competition between great powers, it is not too daring to predict that the one who goes it alone will not be at an advantage. But so be it.”